Clifford. Harry Potter. The Boxcar Children. These storybook characters have entertained and inspired countless American children. And now, they can do the same for a whole group of immigrant kids.
Some new book worms at the Integrated Arts Academy, a school that serves many English-language-learning students whose parents emigrated from countries such as Somalia, Nepal, and South Sudan, in Burlington, Vermont, took home free reading material this week, thanks to the Children’s Literacy Foundation (CLF). This nonprofit aims to inspire a love of reading in low-income and rural children in New Hampshire and Vermont. According to CLF’s website, it has served 150,000 children since 1998 — donating more than $3 million worth of books. Donations from the community make it possible for the kids to start their own home libraries.
This year, Duncan McDougall of CLF gave the families a literacy seminar before the kids each picked out two free books at the book fair. McDougall spoke to the parents about how they can support their children’s reading habits, offering them techniques to engage the kids in the story, even if the parents themselves can’t read English well. Five translators were on hand to help the families select good books for their kids.
McDougall told Lynn Monty of the Burlington Free Press, “These children are all very eager to learn and to read more often, but many of them have few, if any, books of their own at home. Their parents often work multiple jobs which makes it hard to take children to the library, and many of the parents themselves have limited literacy skills.”
“We are newcomers who want to help our kids at home,” Mon Gurung, who moved to the U.S. from Nepal, told Monty.